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Crusaders Comeback Falls Just Short in National Championship

Crusaders Comeback Falls Just Short in National Championship

GREENVILLE, SC- The Great Lakes Christian College Basketball team took on #2 Grace Christian University for the third time this season. This time for the right to be called NCCAA DII National Champions. The Crusaders split with the Tigers during the regular season, each team winning by 12 points a piece. The Tigers jumped out on the Crusaders early scoring the games first eight points before the Crusaders finally got on the board. Grace was sharp offensively, and were shooting the three at a high clip going 11/18 from three including hitting 8 of their first 12 attempts. The Tigers used their hot shooting to build the lead to as much as 25 in the first half. Crusaders were able to get cut the Grace deficit to 17 at the half in large part Isiah Reed, JaQuin Jones, and Jahmal Eggleston. The score after first frame was 55-28. The Crusaders shot 50 percent from the floor but only had 24 field goal attempts while the Tigers shot and even better 59 percent on 34 field goal attempts.

In the second half the Crusaders came out determined to make it a game. They started defending at a higher level stringing stops together but GLCC could not find the bucket on offense through the first three minutes of the half. With 6:40 to play Kellum Bridgeforth for the Tigers made the lead 69-51. The Crusaders stayed composed and put on their signature pressure defense, and the looks that were falling earlier started to fall. Crusaders went on a quick 12-0 over the next 90 seconds of game play. GLCC faithful were electric bringing the Crusaders energy on the floor. The Tigers answered the 12-0 spurt with quick four points of their own to push their lead to 73-63 with just 2:43 left of game time. GLCC refused to go away, they continued to show their resiliency and went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 3 with just 30 seconds to play. After extending the game and two Grace free throws the score stood 75-70 with 20 seconds to play. Jahmal Eggleston pushed in transition to score a bucket quick for the Crusaders and after a quick foul Grace was on the line for one and one. The Tigers missed the front end, and with .8 seconds left on game clock Lance Adams hit the biggest shot of his career to make it 75-75 and send the Crusaders into overtime.

The building was rocking as the Tigers and Crusaders headed into the extra period. The Tigers got on the board first in the overtime. The Crusaders remained calm and answered the bell going on a 8-4 run to take their first lead of the game 83-81. The Tigers missed a three and secured the offensive rebound with 32 seconds to go. The Tigers called their final timeout of the game to draw up their last play. The Crusaders were determined to get one last stop. Kellum Bridgeforth got the ball on the wing, and game winning three with 5.5 seconds to go. The Crusaders would push in transition and get a great look at the basket but it was not able to fall. The Tigers would win 84-83.

JaQuin Jones, Lance Adams, and Jahmal Eggleston each had 18 points for the Crusaders in the loss. GLCC finishes their record setting year 21-12 including 12-3 in NCCAA play. Lance Adams and Isiah Reed were both named to the NCCAA DII All Tournament Team.


Inside the Box Score:

  • Grace Tigers had 20 second chance points compared to the Crusaders 7
  • GLCC held the Tigers to 28 percent from the floor in the second half
  • Crusaders committed just 11 turnovers compared to the Tigers 17
  • The Crusaders went 11/28 from three compared to the Tigers 12/29


What Coach Says:

"So many emotions about the game.This game was an instant classic. One of the craziest and most special games I have ever been a part of, I am so proud of my guys. The resiliency and character they showed to comeback from 25 down including 18 down with under seven minutes to play is just incredible. I hurt for my guys because I know how much they invested this season, and to lose on a last second shot like that is just a tough way to lose. I know we didn't come out on the right side of the scoreboard on this one, but this group of guys are winners. They did something incredible not just in this game but this entire season. I have so much pride to be a Crusader. Congratulations to Coach Bailey and the Tigers they made big plays. I give them a lot of credit."